Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,Gifts CC

We’ve been particularly good this year, so we’re hoping we can slip in a few last minute Christmas gift wishes.

  1. Freedom from politicians who want to take away our rights to own Red Ryder BB guns and their adult equivalents.
  2. A government that values private sector innovation over ineffective government regulation to solve problems.
  3. Solutions that create marketplace efficiency and actually advance healthcare delivery rather than bloated bureaucratic regulation and tax administration rules.
  4. Activists who recognize that all lives matter.
  5. Journalists who report facts instead of agendas.
  6. An end to politically motivated climate change hysteria. (Feel free to give lumps of coal to the hysterical alarmists – particularly academics and politicians who want to prosecute scientists who disagree with the climate change agenda.)
  7. Political parties who care about improving the lives of their constituents instead of increasing their own power and enriching their financial benefactors.
  8. A government budget that doesn’t enslave future generations to crippling tax and debt burdens.
  9. An executive branch that understands its role is to execute rather than pass laws.
  10. A judicial branch that understands its role is to interpret laws rather than pass them.
  11. A legislative branch that legislates. Sparingly.
  12. A government that understands alphabet soup is for eating instead of creating ineffective bureaucracies that rob people of their individual liberties.
  13. A rational banking and finance system that isn’t stuffed with funny monopoly money.
  14. Politicians who stop lying to people by pretending a slow down in increased rate of spending is somehow a “cut.”

Even though these might not all fit into our stocking or under a tree, we’d be glad to get any of these! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Sincerely,

Freedom Forge Press

PHOTO CREDIT:

“Ever Present” JD Hancock, at Flickr, via Creative Commons License 2.0

Epic E-Book Sale Through December 4th

FFP-ebook-sale-Dec-2015We are all about free markets. And the free market has created one crazy week of sales opportunities from Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, to Cyber Monday – all in one convenient week!

So instead of kicking off a BlackFriSmallBizCyberMon Sale (because honestly who wants to try to say that 3 times fast?), we’ll kick off an Epic E-Book sale.

Pick up a Kindle copy and get a few for your friends as well. E-books of all of our titles, excepting our first anthology, will be available for $1.99 on Amazon. Unfortunately, since we already offered the anthology on its anniversary date, Big Brother Amazon says we can’t offer it again. Too soon, they say!

[We don’t like rules much, so we found a way to include our first anthology in the sale anyway. It’s just our little way of sticking it to the man.]

Sale begins Friday, November 27th at midnight (PST) and runs through Friday, December 4th – also at midnight (PST).

Here is a convenient link to Amazon.com with a filter search for our books. 

We greatly appreciate your support for our press and our authors as it enables us to keep bringing you great fiction promoting freedom and the spirit of the individual!

Mathematical Proof: National Debt Blows Past Uranus

What does the US national debt have in common with Uranus?

According to daily reports released by US Treasury officials, the US national debt has now reached a staggering $18,492,091,120,833.99 (yes they even included the cents). Nearly 18.5 TRILLION dollars.

This is enough dollar bills laid end-to-end to cover the average distance between Earth and Uranus (maths below if you really want to know).

Uranus Debt

 

At the end of October, Republicans and Democrats in Congress agreed they just can’t figure out how to cut the *astronomical* (see what we did there?) spending in the federal budget, leaving tough decisions about today’s fiscal problems for the next Congress and President to deal with.

Such feckless leadership leaves us all impoverished. More interest will be spent on the debt – funds that will buy no national defense, no FBI, not even for a road (because without government, who would build the roads? AMIRITE?). All those funds will go to financing money that has already been spent. This leaves current citizens who aren’t even old enough to vote yet with a huge stack of bills and IOUs. It’s unconscionable; it’s immoral; it’s wrong, in every imaginable sense of the word.

 

As promised, the maths:

Astronomical Unit = 149,597,871 kilometers
Average Distance from Earth to Uranus: 19.2 AU
Distance (in km) from Earth to Uranus: 2,872,279,123 kilometers

Length of One US Dollar Bill: 6.14 inches
Conversion US Dollar Bill to metric (come on, you saw The Martian, in space we translate to metric): 15.5956 centimeters
Conversion US Dollar Bill to metric (kilometers): 0.000155956

National Debt of the US Government: $18,492,091,120,833.99
National Debt of the US Government in $1 dollar bills: (just kidding…)
National Debt of the US Government in Dollar Bills (in kilometers): 2,883,952,562.84 kilometers

2,883,952,562.84 > 2,872,279,123

Conclusion: National Debt of the US Government > Distance from Earth to Uranus

Of Propane and Politics

What do propane and politics have in common? One smells bad, the other is used to heat hot water and provide heat for your home in winter.

Ha…Ha…Ha…

Very funny, we know! But they have something else in common as well. Both illustrate the beauty of competition. I received a marketing call from a well-known propane distributor (we’ll call them AmeriPropane) asking me if I needed to fill up my tank. And how timely! As the Starks of Winterfell say, “Winter is Coming!”

Propane Tank

Photo Credit: johnpoltrock via www.ilovemurphy.com

AmeriPropane’s business model (I assume) is to give away free gas tanks to commercial developers and home builders in exchange for licensing them to the eventual building occupant. Once licensed, the state government, in my case Virginia, protects the interest of AmeriPropane by outlawing the purchase of propane from any other distributor. Virginia considers filling a propane tank by anyone other than the owner to be a Class 3 misdemeanor.

And abracadabra! A tiny monopoly is formed for my individual propane market. I don’t own the propane tank buried beneath my yard, and I have to accept AmeriPropane as my sole-source provider of much needed heating fuel for the winter months.

As you can imagine, AmeriPropane has zero incentive at this point to provide any discount that might be confused with competitive pricing from other propane distributors.

To be sure, when I called to get a price for a refill, a very apologetic sales representative quoted me a price of $3.58 per gallon of fuel. Two competitors also servicing the area quoted prices of $2.29 and $2.19. (If it doesn’t sound like much, tank sizes average 500 to 1,000 gallons.)

AmeriPropane: $3.58 x 500 = $1,790
Competitor 1: $2.29 x 500 = $1,145
Competitor 2: $2.19 x 500 = $1,095

Propane is an differentiable commodity. Different competitors essentially provide the same C3H8 molecules. Assuming all companies are honest and provide the same propane (in this case they do), then using the lowest bid generates a savings of $695. At every fill-up. With as many as 2 fill ups during the winter depending on how low temperatures go and how vocal complaints from my wife are as to the thermostat setting.

Propane Molecule

Photo credit: Jynto via Wikimedia.org

AmeriPropane isn’t “wrong” or “criminal” or “exploitative” in charging the prices they do. Tanks cost money as does maintenance and installation. Politicians and progressives believe in free lunches. For the rest of us who live in the real world, the TANSTAAFL principle is an iron clad reality.

In this situation, the only way to win the pricing game was to alter the market and set myself up as the tank owner. I purchased my tank for $1,070, which the math above proves was easily paid for in less than 2 fill-ups.

Now I am the tank owner, and the monopoly for propane fill ups is no more. Free market competition – or at least an approximation of it with a market of about 5 local providers vying for business – is the new paradigm.

As an aside, Competitor 2 showed up, filled my tank and left me a swag bag filled with magnets, bag clips, and even a bag of chips to show appreciation for my business. None of which I ever received from AmeriPropane.

Since becoming the owner of the tank, I routinely call around for propane pricing – and am sure to ask my former tank owner for a price, “just to see” how much I’d be saving from my tank purchase. If they were a low bidder, of course they would get the fill up order. AmeriPropane is consistently 50 cents per gallon higher or more from the average price of the other companies.

Now back to where the story began – with the curious calls from my former tank owner. It seems they have started a marketing program to reach out to previous tank owners and offer competitive pricing on propane fill ups. Imagine that! Somehow they’ve reached the conclusion that selling propane at less of a profit is a better outcome than having propane sit in a storage tank at their distribution center.

I recently filled my tank this summer for $1.49. AmeriPropane had offered $1.99. (Yes even when I identified myself as the tank owner – no discount!) But this time, they wanted to offer me $1.45. They would have actually been the lowest bidder – if they had gotten to me a few weeks earlier.

Monopoly Board

Photo Credit: Rich Brooks via flickr.com

So if you’re still with me, you’re probably saying, “The point, man! Get to the point, man!” Talk of free markets, tormenting you with math, resurrecting dreaded economics terms, it’s all too much! The point is simple: free market competition generally produces a superior result than non-free market competition. AmeriPropane quickly learned and even adapted their behavior when stockpiles of gas went unsold at what many would consider ridiculously high prices.

And the more competitors the better. Consumer choice is a key ingredient in any healthy market. Bernie Sanders may not think being able to choose from 23 types of deodorant or 18 types of sneakers is a good thing, but the reality is that healthy competition keeps prices low and quality high, which enables consumers – particularly those with less disposable income who Bernie purports to “help” – to buy more of the things they need.

Suppose there were only 2 producers of deodorant. The inevitable result would be less competition. Higher prices, lower quality, and less responsiveness to consumer demand would quickly follow.

Which brings me to the final point of this post. If we accept that competition is good – that it forces competitors to stay responsive and ultimately produces a superior result than having a market with only one or two competitors, then what does that say about our two-party political system?

Photo Credit: KDSK via KDSK.com

Photo Credit: KSDK via KSDK.com

The current two-party system leaves many people with only one choice and potentially no voice given a particular set of views. Despite all the evidence to the contrary for the failure of government managed programs (e.g., bankrupt Social Security, rampant Medicare/Medicaid fraud, failing schools despite record per pupil investment, the US Post Office, Amtrak, healthcare.gov, Cash for Clunkers, Prohibition, War on Drugs, Immigration Reform, Farm Subsidies, Affordable Care Act, Ethanol, “Green” Jobs frauds, Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, to name only a few…), if you like big government, then Democrats are generally your only choice. Conversely if you don’t like big government, then Republicans might seem like the only choice – except many of them lately behave like Democrats. This is a duopoly. And in duopolies, while things for consumers aren’t as bad as a monopoly, they aren’t much better.

Voter appetites for more choices are becoming crystal clear with the surges in popularity of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump – both of whom are bucking the “establishment” of their respective parties.

So when it comes to our political system, isn’t it time to rethink only having two competitors to choose from?

Victory Lap for the Feckless

Those of us who did not sleep through civics class probably remember that the US Senate approves treaties with a 2/3 vote. Meaning 67 senators (or two-thirds of those present) must affirmatively vote to ratify a treaty. There are those of us who paid attention in civics class, then there’s Barack Obama, who decided to conduct an “agreement” with the governments of Iran and other world powers regarding that country’s nuclear ambitions.

Whatever your opinion of the “Iran Deal” is – and whether giving people who hold weekly “Death to America” protests a  path to developing a nuclear weapon is the best of ideas – is a discussion for another time. The concern we have is the process the president has used to bring about the current state of diplomatic play.

As with so many other initiatives, the president proves once again that he has no respect for the rule of law, for the Constitution he has sworn to uphold, or even basic political compromise. His administration negotiated a deal, and he took a figurative victory lap while declaring that this deal would be a path to peace.

But bypassing the elected representatives of the American people is not the right path to be on. Seeking Senate ratification requires 67 votes – meaning the president would have to subject his agreement to the Republican Senate majority for review. The same Republican Senate majority that won those elections that the president taunted them to win in 2012.

Republicans have been less than eager to voice support for the deal due to such glaring oversights as the Iranians essentially being able to self-certify that they are in compliance with the agreement. Call us crazy, but a country that is an active state-sponsor of terrorism is probably not an honest partner that should be trusted with self-certifying anything when it comes to nukes.

Rather than seeking political compromise with a majority of Senators – several of whom would need to come from the opposition party – Obama determined that the deal was an “executive agreement.” Executive agreements are essentially treaties that the executive branch pretends are not treaties for Senate review – but ARE treaties for virtually any other purpose – and would require the Senate (and House) to pass a law to void the agreement – over a presidential veto.

And voila. We have arrived at our current circumstance. Opponents of the Iran Deal in Congress and not the president are the ones who must muster a veto-proof two-third majority to disapprove the deal rather than the president being required to seek a 2/3 vote to ratify his agreement – as the Constitution requires.

If you’re of the opinion that this is somehow good policy, you probably really like Obama and really don’t like Republicans. You probably didn’t pay much attention in civics class either.

So what if a socially conservative president signed onto an international agreement to ban gay marriage or abortion in solidarity with other socially conservative South American and African countries who do not share the same beliefs that you do? You’d probably be pretty irked. (By the way, Iran would likely sign onto both of these deals too, so that should tell you something about your prospective partner in this current deal.)

Our government has a system of checks and balances that is required, not suggested, by the Constitution. The purpose is to prevent any one branch from seizing too much power. This is particularly true of an executive branch now headed by a lame duck president who will not stand for election again unless he determines that the two-term limit somehow doesn’t apply to him.

When presidents do everything they can to thwart our system of checks and balances in order to get their way, they break faith with the people they represent and the Constitution they have sworn to uphold and defend.

Freedom Friday – Institute for Justice Seeks to Expand Economic Freedom for San Diego Taxi Drivers

One of our favorite organizations is the Institute for Justice (IJ), a nonprofit organization with the mission of defending private property, economic liberty, free speech, and school choice. As their site notes, “simply put, we seek a rule of law under which individuals can control their destinies as free and responsible members of society.”  We couldn’t agree more!

We love reading up on some of the cases that IJ takes under its wing. We’re been hearing a lot recently about the controversies about taxi companies, including innovative new companies like Lyft and Uber, which are trying to break through the behemoth monopoly of the traditional taxicab industry, which hurts everyone but the privileged and well-connected few.

We recently read about a case for taxi freedom in San Diego. The Institute for Justice defended two drivers who wanted to have the right to own their own license and be allowed to drive a taxi to make money. The case follows Adbi Abdisalan and Abdullahi Hassan, both US citizens and longtime cab drivers who came to the US as refugees from Somalia’s civil war several decades ago. All they wanted was to have a shot at the American Dream—to work and prosper for oneself. But the City of San Diego created a virtual cartel in the taxicab industry servicing the city that was nearly impossible to fight.

San Diego’s process for taxi permits was outdated and monopolistic. The city created an artificial scarcity of taxis by capping permits for just 993 cabs. (The city has 1.3 million people and is growing). Permits cost $120,000 and were owned by 499 individuals, most of whom didn’t even drive a taxi. Instead, they leased out their permits for a weekly fee of $300 to $800. Under the leadership of IJ’s legislative counsel, Lee McGrath, San Diego’s city council lifted the permit cap, now allowing drivers who meet basic requirements to acquire a permit for about $3,000.

Of course, the cab companies of San Diego aren’t going down without a fight. They have engaged in a lawsuit demanding that the city—well, stop allowing entrepreneurs to have the economic freedom to start their own companies, as Abdisalan and Hassan plan to do. Nothing like an artificially constructed monopoly to increase prices and decrease quality of service, right?

IJ is still on the case.

It’s perplexing to see how governments of all levels use their “power” to create false monopolies and shortages that increase price, decrease quality, and create a nice security bubble for a small special interest—who will be more than happy to help with campaign cash when needed. With legislation long, boring and complicated, it’s difficult for the average working American to keep up with it all—but we believe the key to restoring economic and personal freedom in this country is for the populace to stay informed and demand accountability from their local, state, and federal governments.

We often hear people lamenting about the “death of the American Dream” and how it is nearly impossible for people to succeed anymore. We agree that the American Dream has become more difficult to attain. It seems that legislation is generally created by lobbyists with special interests in mind. Many laws and regulations make it nearly impossible for the “Little Guy” to succeed, instead pushing for the success of larger corporations with the resources to lobby, stand up for, or follow these heavy-handed regulations.

So in the face of all that news and the headwinds entrepreneurs face on a daily basis to pursue their happiness, their dreams, and their businesses, we love to share stories of people who take a stand and fight for individual and economic freedom.

Words Pale on Memorial Day by Val Muller

MILITARY_CEMETERY_-_PHOTOEach year growing up, I biked several miles with my parents to watch the huge Memorial Day parade. It was a big deal, and of course to a kid, it was a day to have fun. It started with Dad putting the American flag up on our house. I wasn’t sure why—I assumed it was because Memorial Day ushered in the start of summer, and it seemed the Fourth of July was right around the corner.

When we got to the parade, it felt more like summer than anything else. There was such energy and happiness. Kids ran around discussing summer plans and counting down to the end of school. I remember vendors selling inflatable animals, cotton candy, and all manner of colorful treats. I never understood why my parents only ever let me buy one thing, though: a little red poppy.

And Dad didn’t buy the poppy for me, either, even though he usually made the purchases. He gave me money and told me to hand it to the person selling the poppies, and to say “thank you.” I even remember being small enough (and shy enough) that he held me in his arms as I made the purchase. I’m sure he tried to explain what the poppies were, and who made them, but as a little girl, I was more interested in the bright red color and the way I could bend the twisty wire to attach the flower to my bike helmet or handlebar. There was something unique about my having to purchase the poppy myself, but combined with the excitement of the day, it became one of the quirks of childhood I shrugged off: some kids got inflatable bears, and I got a poppy. I didn’t dwell on it—I focused instead on the colors and the sounds and the fun of the holiday, knowing that summer was just around the corner.

But when the veterans marched by in the parade, Mom and Dad always said how sad it was. I didn’t understand: what was sad about people marching in a parade? It’s a parade, for goodness sake! My parents told me it was the veterans NOT marching by that tinged the day with sadness.

I didn’t get it at first, but the year I did, it sent chills down my spine as I rode home, and suddenly there was much more depth to my little world: it was because of those NOT marching that I could ride my bike down the street, and stop at McDonald’s for breakfast, and cheer on the parade with friends, and go home to have a cookout.

This is one of those holidays that words can’t really capture.

The greatest gift one human can give another is the gift of freedom. Though he admits to being against war in general, Thomas Paine said it eloquently in The Crisis when referring to the American Revolutionary War:


“A generous parent should have said, ‘If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace;’ and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty…. Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it.”

Those who made the ultimate sacrifice understood this concept and bore more hope for our future than anyone else—for they saw something in our future worth fighting for, worth dying for.

As Memorial Day fades into summer, let us remember their sacrifices—and in doing so, make our futures and our world something that would make them all proud.

Censoring the Past to Make a Comfortable Present Leads to a Dark Future

This Friday, we celebrate some common sense in the defense of genuine academic freedom.

We tip our hat to Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal for taking on the clueless insanity that has manifested itself at Columbia University’s student paper. The paper penned an op-ed recently decrying western classical literature as

Triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom. These texts, wrought with histories and narratives of exclusion and oppression, can be difficult to read and discuss as a survivor, a person of color, or a student from a low-income background.

In the styling of the inner party of Orwell’s 1984, liberal students winding through the halls of academia (and liberals and progressive statists in general)  seem to want thought based on emotion – how you feel in relation to an event or idea rather than worry with ages-old tried and true approaches such as…logic or reason. And this is good. Provided that you feel the same way and react the same way as your betters. (Compare “bellyfeel” and “duckspeak” from the Newspeak Dictionary.)

Noonan’s response is the serious wake up call college students need before turning over any more of their minds to The Party.

At last year’s Shenandoah University Children’s Literature Conference, our editor Val Muller was lucky enough to hear Aranka Siegal speak. Siegal is a Holocaust survivor and was asked to attend the conference many times before she finally agreed. Now in her eighties, Siegal was encouraged not to travel, and her family discouraged her.

When she spoke at the conference, recounting her experiences in Hungary leading up to her time in Auschwitz, she cried. When she spoke of the last time she saw her mother–as her mother stood in line for the crematorium, she cried. When she spoke of nearly starving to death, of witnessing atrocities in the kitchens, of rape and abuse and death–she cried. There was no emotional safety in sharing these memories.

And yet she emphasized to all at the conference that she thought it important enough to speak to the room of educators not because she wanted their pity, but because she did not want the past to die. As horrific as those experiences were, and as painful as it was for her to recount them again, she wanted to share the pain of history so that it would not be repeated. So that the educators in the room would share her experiences – painful as they were – with the next generation of thinkers.

Avoiding history because it brings up unpleasant memories; bleaching out words of literature because they cause pain; or eliminating literary works to make people feel better about themselves in their present state of being is cowardice and weakness. But it is far more dangerous than that.

The Columbia student paper is advocating for censorship. At first it may appear to be benign – even benevolent. Why not wipe clean the sins of the past in order to spare a few tears or unpleasant moments during our present?

But it is the future that suffers from such folly. The level of censorship of works needed to wipe the past clean enough to accommodate the hyper-sensitivities of our current time would leave the next generation incapable of experiencing texts that can teach us to distinguish good from bad.

If our only reference point for unfairness is imagined exclusion, then we might overlook things like the federal government’s blatant dishonesty in saying it will only use mass surveillance to protect us from terrorists. Meanwhile we find out that federal agencies engage in “parallel construction,” bringing criminal cases against individuals constructed with bits of information obtained illegally and without a warrant.

If our only reference point for corruption is imagining that free market entrepreneurs only amass wealth and success by stealing it from poor people, then we become immune to widespread government theft of private property through civil forfeiture where a government agency seizes cash and property without ever filing charges against an individual – leaving the legal burden on the person to take the government to court to reclaim their own property.

If our only reference point for discrimination is sloppy math and dishonest studies used to politically decry a pay gap for women and to declare a “war on women” is on, then we might miss actual discrimination whereby the US government systematically abuses its power to discriminate against political opponents of the current administration.

And all of these examples are real and happening right now in the Land of the Free. And if the public tolerates these abuses, how much longer will it be before an all-powerful government can detain (even claim to kill) US citizens without trial.  (Oh, wait, it can do that too!? Yes we can…says the President’s Attorney General)

Americans already tolerate the above abuses of their freedoms by the federal government – in the name of security, of course.  And if we have already come this far, then how far away is an experience like Aranka Siegal’s – right here in the United States? Adolf Hitler became Chancellor in 1933. Mass deportations of Jews into extermination camps and the eastern ghettos of Europe began with Operation Reinhard in 1942 – not even a decade later.

We believe sharing a painful past helps to prevent an even more painful future. Telling stories of suffering, of abuse, and yes, even of rape and the evil that Aranka Siegal endured, is strength. Recognizing the evil in those stories helps us identify it and know it when we see it instead of becoming numb and dumb to the world around us.

Perhaps we need to tell students painful stories more often, not less.

Writing Tip: As for the Word “As”…

Power of Words

A writer friend recently posted a question about avoiding the word “as.” An editor told her to avoid it, but she didn’t know why. Another author commented that she’d been told to use “while” or “when” instead of “as.”

While I’ve never been told to avoid “as” by any editor, I do understand the sentiment. When we’re told to avoid words, it’s usually because the use of such words allow for “lazy” constructions.

Periodic Sentences

One reason to avoid “as” could be that it’s used to construct periodic sentences. These are sentences that begin with one (or more) dependent clauses, making the reader wait until the last part of the sentence to see what the sentence is about. Here is an example of a periodic sentence:

As the wind began to blow, as the trees began to sway, and as the land began to tremble, the house toppled down.

We don’t know until the end of the sentence that the house toppled down. Obviously, sentences can be constructed like this for dramatic effect, and periodic sentences are poetic and effective to that end. But for the ordinary sentence meant only to communicate information, periodic sentences can become tiresome for the reader if used too much.

Here is an example:

As he crossed the garden, the sun began to shine.

There’s nothing grammatically wrong with this sentence, but the use of “as” allows the writer to be unspecific. There are two parts to the sentence: crossing the garden and the sun shining. The sentence is Hemingway-esque in its level of detail. It’s a style choice. But for an editor looking for the writer to make each sentence work harder, removing the “as” may force the sentence to be more specific. How about:

He skipped through the garden, relishing in the sun.

Removing “as” forces the reader to consider what else is important about the sentence. In the original sentence, “as” becomes the important factor, tying in the fact that crossing the garden and the sun shining are happening simultaneously. Most often, the concurrent nature of the clauses is not the most important aspect of the sentence. If it’s not, removing “as” may help the writer clarify.

Direct Comparisons

Remember high school English? “As” is an indirect comparison (simile) as opposed to a direct comparison (metaphor). For many writers, similes are easier to write.

Love is like…a red, red rose.

This smelly sneaker is as rotten as a fish.

Metaphors often allow for more complexity than similes.

Love is an unforgiving mistress.

This smelly sneaker is a petri dish.

Once again, the use of the word “as” removes us one step from the sentence. Take a look at this sentence:

The ocean stilled for a moment as though respectful of the ashes that had just been scattered.

Removing the “as” would force the writer to re-arrange the sentence, perhaps adding personification (The ocean stilled for a moment, respecting the ashes scattered on its surface.) One could argue that personifying the ocean is a stronger way to word the sentence. It’s less obvious than the writer or narrator TELLING us why the ocean is still; rather, we’re being SHOWN, seeing that even nature sympathizes with the death (ashes) in this scene.

In short, it’s not the word “as” that’s offensive in and of itself, but it’s the fact that “as” lets writers get away with constructions that could be more strongly worded or stated otherwise.

“As” with any good writing, it’s about using techniques intentionally and for a purpose rather than taking the easy way out. Readers can sense laziness, and they appreciate diligence.

Kicking Off Forging Freedom II with a Tribute to Dad

FF2_Final_cover_frontForging Freedom II debuts this week, and we’re excited to share these stories with you. The book is available on Amazon and on our publisher store. I’m grateful to all our our contributors who shared their stories, to Val for all the time spent editing and working with our authors to make their stories shine, and to Meg for her sharp proofreading eye in catching all those things that spellchecker didn’t.

And I’d like to thank my dad, Allen Egger. Although he’s no longer with us, except in spirit, I have him and mom to thank for giving me a childhood where I learned to value freedom. Everything I’ve been able to accomplish today I owe to the beginning that he and mom gave me.

To honor dad’s memory, I’ve set up a scholarship fund to help give others a chance to pursue a future in engineering or computers – dad’s pursuits. If you feel so inclined, you can learn more about helping us get the fund established by visiting the website here.

The foreword to Forging Freedom II is a tribute to dad. I’ll repost it below, but of course it reads much better on a Kindle or paper copy of the book itself 😉

Thank you for reading, and thank you for supporting Freedom Forge – your support continues to mean the world to me!

I write this foreword in tribute to my father, who succumbed to complications from a long-term illness while this book was being edited. When I remember my father, I remember the love of freedom he instilled in me.

Children often realize later in life that they have become more like their parents than they ever expected; the qualities we once thought were “stupid” and “annoying” in our parents are ones that we embrace in adulthood. For all of the hopes and dreams we have, we come to realize that our parents were once our age, too. And they would have had aspirations of their own. At Freedom Forge Press, we share the belief that people should chart their own course in life as well as benefit from the rewards and consequences of success and failure. They should be free to pursue their own happiness without the artificial barriers that are often erected by government bureaucrats seeking to maximize their own power or reward a particularly well-organized or well-funded constituency.

Ever a hard worker, my father took advantage of the free society in which he was raised. He was the first in his family to complete a post-high school education, and he used the opportunity to secure a life-long position with a phone company. His knowledge of mechanics and engineering also led him to become a horologist in his spare time, fixing clocks and watches with the patience that became his trademark.

As a child, I benefitted from my father’s love of freedom. I was one of those kids raised before the age of over-protection and hovering “helicopter parents.” My parents gave me boundaries, of course, but within those boundaries I was given freedom. My non-supervised bike route took up many square miles, and despite a few falls and bad choices, I survived each exploration, learning and growing stronger from my choices. (For instance, I now know it is a bad idea to throw water balloons at the neighbor’s dog!)

When Dad made his watch and clock deliveries, he let me come along, buying me my choice of newspaper or magazine from the local news agency in town. Dad took pride in my choice of The Wall Street Journal. Like Dad, I saw that this country offered great opportunities for entrepreneurs, and even though it took me the whole week to read a single day’s paper, I did so. As I grew and understood the paper more completely, I saw the complications arising from government policies and decisions—and realized the world was not black-and-white. I realized that freedom is challenged daily by policies and motivations unknown to the general population.

Thanks to the foundation my parents provided, I pledged to remain educated and involved, watching out for our freedoms even when it would be more comfortable to remain blissfully ignorant. I joined the Army at seventeen (with my parents’ permission) and founded Freedom Forge Press afterwards as a way to share stories of freedom to keep the flame alive.

Dad always embraced the spirit of individuals making informed choices. Like him, I believe that, given freedom and education, humans can use critical thinking skills to make choices that will better this world. Only too often, those choices are muddied by dishonesty and shrouded by back-room deals. My ongoing hope is for Freedom Forge Press to offer a place for extended dialogue that transcends the superficiality of 140-character tweets and two-second “likes” and “shares” encouraged by social media. Today more than ever, it is important to celebrate freedom and question the methods and motives that people in authority use to ask others to give up their freedoms in exchange for some temporary comfort or security offered by a government program managed by bureaucrats in a distant capital who have little connection to or understanding of the challenges people face every day simply trying to pursue their dreams.

A politician-turned-journalist recently quipped that rights don’t exist in nature, they’re granted by men and by collective agreement. But if this is true, then our “inalienable” rights to life, liberty, and happiness can most assuredly be alienated and taken away by popular vote, unpopular laws, controversial court decisions, and even executive decrees. Those are not rights, but mere privileges. And if we accept that we have only a government-granted privilege to live, be free, and pursue happiness, then we are surrendering the very spirit that makes us human.

In Forging Freedom Volume II, we asked people to share creative stories with a freedom theme. We received true stories and stories based on authors’ ancestors and relatives each struggling for freedom. We received stories in which authors imagined dystopic ends to well-intentioned polices. Stories of individuals struggling to keep their flame of a dream alive despite the dampening effects of powers beyond their control. My father embraced the spirit of such individuals, and as the years pass, I find myself more and more like him—celebrating the spirit of the individual who succeeds in spite of the barriers that society and government erects.